Flint’s Own Successful Arcade Bar: The Eberson

Will Stuart, Writer

Since opening on June 4, The Eberson has grown to include food on its menu and new games, solidifying its place as a downtown staple. 

Located next to the Capitol Theatre at 130 E 2nd St., The Eberson originally opened strictly as a place for drinks and games with 14 arcade cabinets. Since then, the arcade bar has expanded.

“Business has been really good. It’s been very well received by the public,” said Co-Owner Spencer Ruesegger, the other co-owner being his fiance, Kristy Bearse. 

After their purchase of Table & Tap, now replaced with Xolo: Latin Street Food and Tequila Bar, Ruesegger and Bearse thought it would be a no brainer to have food items at The Eberson. 

“People would come, have a couple drinks, play some games and get hungry. The odds of them coming back after that were pretty slim,” said Ruesegger. “So once we have the kitchen we wanted to get it up and running as fast as we could.”

As of right now, The Eberson’s menu remains small by design. Currently there are a few appetizers, salads, a giant soft pretzel and burgers, the last of which has the “impossible” vegan option.

“I’ve come from a couple of places where we had very large menus. That never made sense to me,” said Ruesegger. “I always thought it was better to make a few things really, really well, as opposed to just making a bunch of things.” 

Besides the food, half of what gives The Eberson its identity are the arcade games. The owners pride themselves on the authentic cabinets that kids in the ‘80s would use at their local arcades. Since opening, the amount of games have been brought up to about 16. 

With the arcade, Ruesegger and Bearse have essentially another business on their hands. They buy and sell these cabinets in order to bring games that people can resonate with and will want to play.

“The next game I want to bring in here, one way or another, is the Simpsons four-player game. It was one of my personal favorites growing up and I think it resonates with a lot of people. It’s familiar,” said Ruesegger.

The games alone bring a lot of people in. “It was fun playing board games in the lounge upstairs, and shuffleboard. Which are free. The video games being retro brought back memories from when I was a kid playing them,” said James Bernethy, a patron of the arcade bar.

To add to the vintage arcade aesthetic, The Eberson has its own tokens that customers can use to play games. In contrast to modern arcades, where a single game can cost a dollar or more, one token is one play.

The arcade also caused a shift to The Eberson’s policy, as originally the arcade bar was meant for those ages 21 and up. The rule has been altered so kids are welcome to play until 9 p.m.

“We listened to what our customers had said and adapted. We get kids in here all the time and play and I mean, my kids love to play. I never would have never thought that. It works out perfect,” said Ruesegger.

He explained that often, sitting space is a commodity as they’ve developed a large group of regular patrons and see new faces often. 

“It’s kind of funny because I could be down here one day and know everybody and then the next day, I don’t know a single person.”

The Eberson’s location also positions it for success. Being next to the Capitol Theatre has given show-goers, and even some bands, a place to have drinks and food before or after a performance. 

“We were jam packed when Styx was playing there. I mean, it’s just a completely different environment downtown when stuff like that comes through.”

Ruesegger, who graduated from UM-Flint in 2016 with a degree in business administration, and Bearse are also working on creating a college menu and specials for students.

“Hopefully sooner rather than later, we can do some work with all the universities [UM-Flint, Kettering and Mott], and get them all together to let them know we’re here.”

Looking forward, The Eberson is aiming to expand their events list, one of which is “Free Play Tuesdays,” where all the games are free. Ruesegger explained that he’d love to see a beer tasting event and maybe a video game competition.

“Our goal is to just keep trying to be the best at what we do and to listen to our customers, and adapt if necessary and just be [a] really cool place for people,” said Ruesegger.